A village fair is different from a city one. The village folk seek entertainment in fairs and festivals. It is usually held annually and connected with a religious festival or harvest. The purpose of such fairs is usually trade and to exhibit and sell village handicrafts. In a mela, the shopkeepers open temporary stalls in the open ground. The magicians and jugglers also entertain people and make money.
Punjab is a land of vibrant people who celebrate festivals and other occasions with great zeal and zest. Baisakhi is one of such occasions as it marks the beginning of the harvesting of crops, signifying reaping the fruit of their labour.
Last year I went to visit my maternal uncle in Punjab. I was overjoyed to see the fair which was spread over a large tract of open land. The stalls were tastefully decorated with ribbons and buntings. Young girls in beautiful bright dresses were being irresistibly drawn towards the stalls where bangles of all colours were displayed.
The great attraction of the fair was the wrestling bouts being held in a big open ground surrounded all round by the spectators. The famous wrestlers with their well-built and glowing bodies were drawn from the different parts of the region. Big prizes had been announced for the wrestlers winning over their respective rivals.
There was a vast variety of sights that attracted the attention of the visitors. A motor cyclist was running his vehicle on the walls of a pucca pit. A magician was showing his tricks. There was a snake charmer, a monkey show and a bear dance. Children were were specially interested in buying balloons and toys.
The shopkeepers who had put their stalls of eatables were having a hay day. Pakoras and jalebis could not be missed by anybody as they are the favourite with the Punjabis. However, the greatest attraction of the fair was ‘Bhangra’, the folk dance of Punjab, which was being performed enthusiastically by a few young boys.
The Baisakhi was used as an occasion by the people to sell their home made products like handloom fabrics, baskets, pickles etc. The cattle fair was a sight not to be missed since the best breeds of cattle – the cows, bulls, horses, buffaloes, etc. were brought for sale.
In this way, fairs show the world their rich cultural heritage.